The offensive struggles hit rock bottom for the Bills Sunday as they managed just three points for the second straight week in another uninspiring performance as they fell to the division rival Dolphins 16-3 at the Rogers Centre in their first ever regular season game north of the border.
Buffalo fell to 6-7 on the season and below .500 for the first time this season as their playoff hopes dimmed further heading into the final three games of the year.
The Bills set a season low in total net yards with 163 as they eclipsed their season low at New England in week 10 (168 yards). They went 1-10 on third down conversions and made just one trip to the red zone where they turned the ball over on an interception in the end zone. Buffalo has not scored a touchdown in two games and has lost six of their last seven.
"We didn't play well enough to get things started," said J.P. Losman. "On offense you could tell we were looking for a rhythm and we just didn't have it. Whether we tried to run on first down we were not successful or pass on first down we were not successful. We just were not (successful)."
"It's hard to even think about being on the offensive side of the ball," said Lee Evans. "It's just tremendously frustrating because I feel like we let down the rest of the team. I think our defense played great, special teams gave us a chance, but offensively we don't have an answer. Whatever criticism the offense gets is well deserved. We are what we are and right now we're not very good."
Buffalo's defense played valiantly again throughout, but could not get the offensive support.
"I thought our defense played hard, kept them out of the end zone and to keep up in a 13-point game is a nice job by them," said head coach Dick Jauron. "We've just got to get more from the offensive side."
Converting first downs proved to be a problem for the Bills attack under J.P. Losman, who was making his first start in over a year. Buffalo was unsuccessful on their first six third down attempts in the game.
The offense finally got a conversion when Losman, while rolling away from pressure, found Josh Reed, who made a beautiful over the shoulder one-handed catch for a 23-yard pickup and a first down late in the third quarter.
It set up a 1st-and-10 at the Dolphins 16-yard line where a defensive holding penalty set up a 1st-and-goal at the three for Buffalo. Surprisingly, the Bills called a fade pass to the back corner of the end zone where J.P. Losman's attempt was intercepted by Will Allen for a touchback.
"You look at yourself and you had an opportunity to score a touchdown and you just underthrew it," said Losman. "That happens. With that said we still did not play well enough to win that football game. So there are still a lot of things going wrong other than just that."
For the second straight week Buffalo chose not to make use of their feature back going with an option play.
"It's a run-pass option," said head coach Dick Jauron of the first and goal play. "He has the option if he gets single up outside to throw the fade. We felt like we have two good receivers outside and he just underthrew it."
After the game there was some disagreement about the decision to even have a pass as an option on that play.
"We've got one of the best running backs in the league," said Jason Peters. "Top five running backs. I don't understand it. We've just got to get better. If a play is called run or pass we've got to execute it. We've just got to execute it."
It proved to be the last best chance Buffalo would have offensively in the game. J.P. Losman finished the game 13-27 for 123 yards an interception and a lost fumble. He was sacked four times. The offensive failures weren't all on the quarterback. There were dropped passes, penalties and missed assignments as well for a second consecutive week. Marshawn Lynch was again underutilized on the ground with just 13 carries averaging 2.4 per rush.
Buffalo is now without a touchdown in their last five trips to the red zone.
"Plays just aren't being made," said Evans. "It's just offensively we have no rhythm. Even though we made plays at times and moved the ball, but when it comes down to scoring and getting in scoring range and putting the ball in the end zone we don't have a clue."
Evans, who was again largely taken away by the opponent in the game, struggled to find the reasons why the Bills have fallen so far so fast from a 5-1 start two months ago to the basement of the AFC East.
"It's really hard to put into words because it's a lack of a lot of things," said Evans. "Like I said, we have no rhythm, we have no rhythm offensively. If you want to look at the Kansas City game and say that was the peak it went from peak to bottom real quick."
The Bills fell behind early when the Dolphins after gaining a field position edge drove 54 yards on seven plays using a steady diet of running plays before Chad Pennington split safeties Donte Whitner and Ko Simpson for a 20-yard touchdown strike to Anthony Fasano for a 7-0 edge midway through the first quarter.
Buffalo answered with a field goal drive of their own on the ensuing possession. Josh Reed and Steve Johnson pulled in receptions for first down yardage to move the Bills deep into Miami territory, but the drive stalled when a catch and fumble by James Hardy that was recovered by Reed was overturned on a coach's challenge and ruled incomplete. Buffalo was forced to take a 40-yard field goal, the 200th of Rian Lindell's career (7-3).
Chad Pennington got those three points back in short order for Miami, as he hit tight end David Martin over the middle for an 18-yard pickup and used play action on an 18-yard completion to Ted Ginn to move into Buffalo territory. Buffalo had trouble getting pressure on the Dolphins quarterback.
Buffalo's Bryan Scott made a big third down tackle to force a field goal attempt, but Dan Carpenter was true from 50 yards away for a 10-3 Dolphins lead early in the second quarter.
The Dolphins added another field goal late in the half grinding out a 15-play drive, giving Miami a dominant time of possession edge at the break of better than two-to-one, with Carpenter hitting a 35-yarder to take a 10-point lead into the locker room (13-3).
Buffalo struggled mightily on offense with just 63 total yards on 20 plays in the first two quarters.
"It's hard for a lot of the guys right now," said Losman. "We're all trying to figure it out. It's frustrating because we know we have the talent and the want to, the drive and the work ethic. We do everything we're asked and for some reason we still have to find a way to win whatever it takes. So I think guys are at a loss of words because obviously of the outcome."
The Bills travel to the Meadowlands next week where they face the Jets.